In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY���s Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.
About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York���s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to ���play a modest role in our public events��� and ���contribute to the build-up��� of a new ���inequality initiative.��� It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman were able to explain, what ���contribute to the build-up��� entails.
It���s certainly not teaching. ���You will not be expected to teach or supervise students,��� the letter informs Professor Krugman, who replies: ���I admit that I had to read it several times to be clear ... it���s remarkably generous.��� (After his first year, Krugman will be required to host a single seminar.)
CUNY, which is publicly funded, pays adjunct professors approximately $3,000 per course. The annual salaries of tenured (but undistinguished) professors, meanwhile, top out at $116,364, according to the most recent salary schedule negotiated by the university system���s faculty union. And those professors are expected to teach and publish. Even David Petraeus, whom CUNY initially offered $150,000, conducted a weekly 3-hour seminar.
Along with the offer letter, CUNY released dozens of emails between Krugman and university officials. ���Perhaps I���m being premature or forward,��� the Graduate Center���s President, Chase Robinson, tells Krugman in one of them, ���but I wanted you to have no doubt that we can provide not just a platform for public interventions and a stimulating academic community���especially, as you will know, because of our investments in the study of inequality���but also a relatively comfortable perch.���
Which is undeniably true: $225,000 is more than quadruple New York City���s median household income.
Krugman did not respond to requests for comment. When contacted, a CUNY spokesperson told Gawker, ���We���ll get back to you by early next week.���
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[FOIL request filed using MuckRock; Photo credit: Getty Images]